Ecuadorian Armed Forces

Ecuadorian Armed Forces
Fuerzas Armadas del Ecuador
Founded 1830
Current form 2000
Service branches Ecuadorian Air Force
Headquarters Quito
Commander-in-Chief Rafael Correa
Minister of Defense María Fernanda Espinosa
Chief of staff General Fabián Varela
Military age 18
Conscription 12 months
Available for
military service
7,573,824 (2010 est)[1], age 16–49
Fit for
military service
6,103,748 (2010 est)[1], age 16–49
Reaching military
age annually
299,736 (2010 est)[1]
Active personnel 37,448[2]
Budget US$2.3 billion (FY11)[3] List of countries by military expenditures ranked 54th
Percent of GDP 2.74% (FY10)[3] List of countries by military expenditures ranked 37th
Foreign suppliers  United States
 United Kingdom
 South Africa

The Military of Ecuador is under civilian control. The commander-in-chief is the President of Ecuador, currently Rafael Correa. The military of Ecuador has been involved in border disputes with Peru (Ecuadorian–Peruvian War, Paquisha War, Cenepa War), and has provided Military Observers and troops to the United Nations since 1948.


The Ecuadorian Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas del Ecuador) are part of the public forces and have the stated mission of the preservation of the integrity and national sovereignty of the national territory. It also involves participation in the social and economic development of the country and the provision of assistance in the maintenance of internal order. Tasks include fighting organised crime, anti-narcotic operations and illegal immigration.[4] One social development programme applies the provision of teachers for rural schools through an accord with the Ministry of Education. Environmental protection is also a priority, several programmes were implemented: "National Forestation and Ornamentation", "Lonely Tree", "Green Surveillance", "Fire Plan", "Ecuador Forest" and "Arenillas Military Reserve". The Ecuadorian territory is divided into five "Joint Task Force Zones" or Fuerzas de Tarea Conjunta, four on mainland Ecuador, the fifth being the Naval-zone (including the Galapagos Islands).[5][6] Overseas territories include also the "Pedro Vicente Maldonado" Naval Biological Research Station in the Antarctic.

Geopolitical situation

Ecuador shares a 1,420 km (882 mi) border with Peru, although marked by many conflicts, relations improved since the signing of a renewed Peace Treaty in 1998.[1] However, along the 590 km (367 mi) long border with its neighbour Colombia, relations have been strained mainly due to a cross-border raid by Colombian forces on FARC guerrillas.[4][7][7] The Armed Forces had logistical shortcomings and were caught off-guard. Their radar did not work, aviation was virtually non-existent and communications were not fully operational.[8] A diplomatic crisis followed in 2008 which some attribute partial responsibility to the need of better equipment as well as a new national defence doctrine.[9]

The new administration at the Defence Ministry launched a deep restructuring program under the name of "PATRIA I". It involves the modernisation of military equipment, improvement of planning and operations within the Ecuadorian territory. "PATRIA I" shall be completed by 2011. In 2009, the spending budget was increased by 25% and totaled $920 millions.


Ecuador's military history dates far back to its first attempt to secure freedom from Spain in 1811. In 1822 Ecuadorian troops, alongside other rebel forces, scored a decisive victory over the Spanish royalist army at the Battle of Pichincha. Although assisted by Peruvian troops, it would fight these only a few years later in 1828, as a member of the Confederation of Gran Colombia. Confederation forces, fewer than half of which were Ecuadorians, defeated a much larger Peruvian force near Cuenca, at the Battle of Tarqui. Eventually, Civil War would plunge the country and the army into disorder. In 1941 the Ecuadorian Military found itself weak and disorganized; the by now long-lasting territorial dispute with Peru escalated into a major conflict, the Ecuadorian–Peruvian War of 1941. A much larger and better equipped Peruvian force quickly overwhelmed the Ecuadorian forces, driving them back and invading the Ecuadorian territory. Ecuador had no choice but to accept Peru's territorial claims and signed Peace treaty in 1942. However, the treaty of 1942 failed to settle the border dispute and occasional clashes occurred in a then still non-demarcated border area between the nations. These clashes flared into another outbreak of serious fighting in January 1981 called the Paquisha War; similar incidents occurred in 1983 and again in 1984. The last military conflict with Peru occurred in 1995, during the Cenepa War, in which both sides claimed to be fighting inside their own territory until the signing of a ceasefire and the eventual separation of forces. The longest-running source of armed international conflict in the Western Hemisphere had ended.[10]

Local engagements

UN peacekeeping operations

The Ecuadorian Armed Forces has provided Military Observers and troops to the United Nations since 1948. In November 2003, an Ecuadorian United Nations Training Centre was established under the name of: (La Unidad Escuela de Misiones de Paz “Ecuador). In 2009, Ecuador was deploying over 90 peacekeepers around the globe.

Command structure

  • The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (Comandante en Jefe de las Fuerzas Armadas) is the President of the Republic. He exercises the political leadership of security and national defence and counts on the advice of the National Security Council.
  • The Ministry of Defense (Ministerio de la Defensa National), is the administrative body of the national defence. The Coordinating Minister of Internal and External Security accords the policies and actions that will be adopted by the following institutions as regards internal and external security: the Ministry of Government and Police, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, and the Secretariat General for the Public administration.
  • The Joint Armed Forces Command (El Comando Conjunto de las Fuerzas Armadas), is the highest planning, preparation and strategic body of military operations. It advises on national defence and is conformed by the Chief of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces and the Commanders of all three branches of the Ecuadorian Armed Forces: The Army, Navy and the Air Force.



Main article: Ecuadorian Army

The Ecuadorian Army (Ejército Ecuatoriano) is the land component of the Armed Forces. Its 24,135[2] soldiers are deployed in relation to its military doctrine. The contemporary Ecuadorian Army has a large component of jungle and special forces infantry units implemented within its structure. It operates around 130 Tanks, 200 IFV's and 60 aircraft, their standard rifle is the Heckler & Koch HK33. Recently acquired material include:

Air Force

Main article: Ecuadorian Air Force

The present day Ecuadorian Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Ecuatoriana) saw combat-action several times in 1981 and 1995 when it gained valuable experiences against the Peruvian Air Force. Today the FAE has a personnel of 6,055[2] and focuses mainly on border-control but faces also the war on drugs, guerrilla insurgency as well as humanitarian missions. Since 2009 the FAE is going through some major changes and modernisation plans are still ongoing whilst new projects are considered to bolster the country's defence capacities. Recent and ongoing orders:


Main article: Ecuadorian Navy

The present day Ecuadorian Navy or (Armada del Ecuador) is a compact, efficient and well-balanced force. However, limited funds hinder any major acquisitions and the chances of maintaining a strong force within the Pacific Ocean. Since end 2009, the Navy's structure became simplified. The Ecuadorian Naval-Zone became one and measures, 2,237 km (1,390 mi) of the Pacific Coast and 6,720 km2 of the Pacific Ocean, (including the Galápagos Islands). Most sea-going assets are based at Guayaquil. The Navy focuses mainly on the border-control and illegal immigration. The Navy operates around 20 major vessels (including two submarines) and 25 aircraft. It has a personnel of 7,258.[2] To increase its operational capabilities it acquired recently:

Equipment sources

Historically, Ecuador depended on a wide variety of foreign suppliers for virtually all of its equipment needs. Only in the 1980s did it begin to develop a modest domestic arms industry as the Directorate of Army Industries manufactured rifle ammunition, uniforms, boots, and other consumable items.

In the 1960s and 1970s, France became a leading supplier and delivered AMX-13 tanks and various aircraft. Ecuador purchased also Type 209 submarines and Lürssen-Seawolf TNC 45 patrol boats from West Germany. Whereas various types of Infantry weapons were acquired from Belgium.

Ecuador became a substantial customer for Israeli arms in the 1970s, purchasing Arava aircraft, Gabriel missile for naval patrol crafts and Uzi submachine guns. Under technical assistance contracts, Israel serviced Israeli planes within the air force inventory as well as Boeing civilian aircraft flown by TAME and Ecuatoriana Airlines. Ecuador reportedly also employed Israeli security specialists as consultants in the fight against terrorism. In 1976 Ecuador became the first foreign country to order the Kfir, an advanced jet-fighter equipped with the General Electric J-79 engine produced in Israel under license. The transaction, which required United States government approval because of the engine technology, was rejected by the administration of President Jimmy Carter in order to discourage the proliferation of sophisticated military equipment in the Third World. The action caused an uproar in Israel where the sale was regarded as an important breakthrough in Israels efforts to develop international markets for the Kfir. In 1981, after the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan, Washington removed its objection to the sale. Although the contract called for the purchase of 12 Kfirs and an option to purchase an additional 12, Ecuador acquired only the original group, at a price estimated at US$196 million.

Ecuador became a relatively heavy importer of arms in the late 1970s and early 1980s, averaging US$150 million annually and reaching a peak of US$280 million in 1982. These imports declined sharply to an average of only US$50 million annually between 1985 and 1987, presumably as a result of a dramatic reduction in oil revenues and the precipitous drop in the value of the sucre, which made imported arms extremely expensive. Between 1983 and 1987, Ecuador imported an estimated US$460 million of arms, primarily from Italy, France, the United States and Britain. In 1995, during the Cenepa War against Peru, Argentina gave to Ecuador in a controversial move, 6.500 tons of rifles, cannons, anti-tank rockets, and ammunition.[35]

Recent times saw changes within Ecuadors foreign policy and it decided to look for alternative weapon suppliers. These were found also, in its long-term allies Chile, which sold since 2008 Leopard 1 tanks, Leander class frigates. Israel, delivered in 2009 its unmanned aerial vehicles and Brazil, supplied additional military vehicles and Super Tucano combat-aircraft. Countries like Russia and China had already delivered a small quantity of military equipment some years earlier, but gained on importance during the past few years. Since then, Chinese radars, anti-aircraft systems and infantry weapons were purchased. In 2009 two additional Mil Mi-17 helicopters have been ordered from Russia with further deals planned.[36] India delivered HAL Dhruv helicopters and South Africa is about to deliver 12 Atlas Cheetah supersonic-aircraft. Ecuadors political ally Venezula, donated military equipment and six Mirage 50 aircraft. In 2010, the U.S. embassy in Ecuador announced that it had delivered $1.2 million of donated military equipment to the Ecuadorian military. The donations were intended to support operations countering drug-smuggling and guerilla activity along its Colombian border. Although the U.S. have been refused to renew their lease on the Manta military airbase, deliveries included trucks, patrol boats, GPS, night-vision and rifles.[37][38]

See also


External links

  • (Spanish) Official site of the Ministry of Defence
  • (Spanish) Official site of the National Security Council
  • (Spanish) Official site of the Ecuadorian Army
  • (Spanish) Official site of the Ecuadorin Air Force
  • (Spanish) Official site of the Ecuadorian Navy
  • (Spanish) Official Ecuadorian Coast Guard site
  • (Spanish) Official site of the Ecuadorian Marines
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